Tag Archives: won

Review of Blood Shackles (Rebel Vampires #2), by Rosemary A. Johns

I won a signed copy of Blood Shackles, by Rosemary A. Johns through Goodreads.

What happens when SPARTACUS meets VAMPIRES? Except the vampires are the slaves… In a divided paranormal London, Light is the rebel vampire of the Blood Lifer world, with a talent for remembering things. And a Triton motorbike. Since Victorian times he’s hidden in the shadows. But not now. Not since someone hunted and enslaved him. When he’s bought by his alluring Mistress, Light fights to escape. Even if he can’t escape their love. But if he doesn’t, he’ll never solve the conspiracy behind the Blood Club…


Who are these ruthless humans? Who’s their brutal leader? And who betrayed the secret of the Blood Lifer world?


London, Primrose Hill. Grayse is the commanding slaver’s daughter. The enemy. She buys Light, like he’s a pair of designer shoes. So why does Light feel so drawn to her? Ashamed, he battles with his desire, even as he burns for her. Can a slave truly love his Mistress? Especially when his family is still in chains. Will he risk everything – even his new love – to save them?


Does a chilling conspiracy lie behind it all? A stunning revelation leads Light to an inconceivable truth. To the dark heart of the Blood Club. If he can face his worst terrors, he can save his family and his whole species from slavery.

Maybe he can even save himself.

Honestly better than I expected. I always approach anything involving slavery, especially romance, very warily. So many ways to go wrong. But this managed not to glorify it or the abuse the slaves endure, physically, mentally and sexually. It was a little glossed over, still uncomfortable though, but not made out to be anything but horrible. This is not something I enjoy and I struggled getting through the book since a decent amount of it is dedicated to man talking about what it’s like to be broken.

I even eventually got used to the journaling format it is written it. But I could not stand the cant the characters spoke. Nut for head, neb for nose, lobehole for ear, mush for mouth, etc, etc, etc, etc. OMG it was endless and annoying. Plus, despite being set in modern London and one of the characters growing up in Boston, they all spoke it. Even the rich people you’d have expected to be well educated.

I also found it a little odd how many opportunities vampires had to kill their captors, even when they weren’t mentally broken, but instead just fought them. They pushed them or broke a bone or talked when they were perfectly capable of killing them and moving on. Especially when Light is made out to be an exceptional fighter.

The writing is very good and the editing fine, maybe not perfect but fine. I don’t know that I’d be interested in more of this series, but I’d be perfectly willing to read more of Johns’ writing. I found a lot of it thought provoking, even if disconcerting.


Review of Vick’s Vultures, by Scott Warren

I won a paperback copy of Vick’s Vultures, by Scott Warren, through Goodreads.

In the far future, alien technology captured by the Union Earth Privateers has fueled Earth’s tenuous expansion from a single planet to a handful of systems across the Orion Spur.

Victoria Marin, captain of the U.E. Condor, and her crew of Vultures have been running dry for months. In danger of losing her command and her credibility if she can’t locate fresh salvage, she locks onto the distress signal of an alien ship in hopes of valuable cargo. What she finds instead is First Prince Tavram, the heir apparent to one of the largest empires in known space. Tavram’s ship has been crippled after narrowly escaping an ambush and his would-be assasin is coming to finish the job.

The Vultures launch a high risk mission to rescue the prince and recover every last scrap of xenotech they can before the hunter catches up to his prey. But there are more dangers than notorious interstellar assassins when it comes to ferrying an alien prince across the stars, and Victoria must contend with dangerous alliances, old grudges, and even her own government if she means to bring her crew home alive. Whether she succeeds or fails, the consequences of her choices will affect the path of all humanity.

Vick’s Vultures was a complete surprise. I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect when I started it, but I’ll assure you it wasn’t gripping writing, fun characters, an interesting universe (or two) inhabited by a slew of differing alien creatures and cultures, all of it fitting together almost seamlessly. And it darned sure wasn’t a kick-butt female captain that wonderfully walked the line in which she was definitely a woman, but that never eclipsed her being a captain, nor did the author feel the need to butch her up so much she just became a dreaded man with boobs. Thank you Scott Warren for that! Characters really can be female and professional, who knew?

I did think Best Wish’s loss of control toward the end a little too convenient to believe and I occasionally had a little trouble understanding the techno-speak. But all in all, this was a fabulous read.


Review of When I’m Bad, I’m Better, by K.F. Johnson

I won a signed copy of K. F. Johnson‘s When I’m Bad, I’m Better through Goodreads.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and in this present-day drama, neither was the facade these four cousins expended a lifespan constructing. They say good girls finish last…but when they’re bad, they’re better!

Valerie’s just recovered from a career ending accident when her fiancé adds insult to injury by cheating on her with her closest relative. Devastated, angry, and now financially strapped, she’s ready to break all the rules…or is she?

Yasmin’s a successful attorney whose failing marriage has left a void that only a side romance has been able to fill. When a crime unexpectedly turns her life upside down, decisions will have to be made…or they’ll be made for her.

Vanessa’s an aspiring singer who’s tired of living in the shadow of her identical twin’s success. She’s not getting any younger, success doesn’t come cheap and fame costs!

Amina’s a beautiful bombshell who uses what she’s got to get what she wants; but she’s harboring seedy secrets that are anything but pretty. As skeletons begin to resurface, she needs them dead and buried…before she is.

With friends and family like these, who needs enemies? Geez. There’s a lot of drama packed in the pages of this book. I enjoyed the characters, though I don’t think I’d go so far as to say I liked them. It is interesting however to see into the mind of some of those unlikable characters and understand their position, even if it only truly makes sense in their own warped point of view. It’s a reminder that nothing and no one grows in a vacuum.

I really appreciated that this is a book by and about people who too rarely get their time on the page. All the main characters are people of color, in fact I don’t think there’s a white face in the book, but there are also queer and trans cameos too. Plus, this is a book about women. Men are in it. They’re often the motivation for the women’s actions, but this is a book about women— strong, self-reliant black women. I like the way that tips the standard tropes on their head. So often in books it’s women who are only present as reasons for men to do things, to go on quests or get angry or defend their honor or virtue, etc. Here, while the motivations are very different, it’s the men who play the more passive role, spurring women to actions, good and bad.

The narrative style is gritty and regional. A lot of the dialogue would send a grammar nazi into convulsions, but who really speaks with proper grammar everyday of their lives? Again, this is a realism you don’t often see allowed in literature. On the other side, the fact that the narration isn’t in standard English doesn’t absolve the author of the responsibility of editing. There are several occurrences that are clearly mistakes, mostly around punctuation and homophones. But’s it’s largely pretty clean.

I have a few personal pet peeve kind of complaints. As a general rule, and I’ve said this before, I truly dislike when authors compare their characters to celebrities as a means of telling the reader what they look like. I haven’t watched television in almost 5 years and have only seen a handful of movies. I have no clue who the new generation of stars are or what they look like. It is wholly ineffective for relaying information to me and only leads to feeling alienated as a reader. (And yes, I sadly do realize how old that makes me sound.) This is the primary means of character description in this book, everyone having a celebrity lookalike. We’re kind of given a reason for this, but it didn’t help me at all.

Next, while I understand that not everyone views sex, monogamy, parenting, relationship in the same way and I wouldn’t want them to, and I understood that for a variety of reasons (the least of which was romance) this was important to the characters, a lot of the book is dedicated to who is sleeping with whom and who is or isn’t injured because of it. I appreciated the subtle ways the author created a perception of castes among people, degrees of legality and hierarchies of betrayal, legitimizing some things and people and not others, but I did get a tad tired of the constant who is f_cking who and if I’m honest, I didn’t much care for the author’s style of describing sex. Again, personal preference, but there you have it.

Lastly, the book ends on a cliffhanger and I just hate that. All in all, it’s worth picking up though

I just love autographed books!